Breeding with artificial insemination
Artificial Insemination (AI) takes time, money and a lot of messing about, but it can be worthwhile for small
flocks and cleanskin breeds.
Buying semen for AI has many potential advantages:
You can afford very good genetics for a semen sample, where you couldn't justify buying a top-price ram to put over just a few ewes.
You don't need to buy a new ram every couple of years to avoid inbreeding.
Sourcing semen from a distance away can avoid local inbreeding issues.
Sending semen through the post is cheaper and quicker than buying and transporting a ram, and there are no OJD restrictions.
Just one season using AI with semen from two or three different rams can give you unrelated ram lines to breed from for several years.
You may not need your own ram at all! Rams need better fences and handling facilities, and they can be difficult to manage. Although they seem
tougher, in fact they are more likely to drop dead than ewes. A ewe flock can be easier and safer, for you, the stock and for children.
The normal process for artificial insemination is to insert in each ewe's vagina a chemical hormone pessary
which makes them all ovulate seventeen days later. On the right day, a little of the semen you have purchased is put into the ewe's vagina or directly into the uterus. The
conception rate varies and is sometimes disappointing, but the ewes that conceive will all lamb within a few days of each other!